There’s a lot of talk on the blog these days about Schultz, Nikitin and Ference. The trio are often thrown into a pile and at some point have become interchangeable in conversation. Is that fair? Let’s go to the Vollman.
Here were see Schultz getting a massive zone start push and his bubble is blue and healthy. For me, the issue in regard to him was threefold one year ago:
- The TOI was overwhelming. I do believe the amount of time he played impact his effectiveness.
- Oscar Klefbom helped the pairing but it took a significant piece away from a defensive pairing.
- The actual production was less than ample. Travis Yost did a fine job looking at the issue (and others) here.
The Yost piece highlights the issue our eyes often see with Schultz—he’s often out of position, going the wrong way, or both. It’s galling. It’s not the biggest problem on the team and I do think it’s a bit unfair to include Schultz in with Andrew Ference and Nikita Nikitin.
In terms of being voted off the island, one suspects the white board in Chiarelli’s office goes:
- Andrew Ference (very likely to be bought out next summer)
- Niki Nikitin (very likely to be showcased)
- Justin Schultz (talented but flawed, may be facing last chance Texaco)
I’m absolutely fine with you arguing another order, but suggest you pack a lunch because it’s going to take awhile to argue your way out of the Vollman.
- Rob Vollman on the Oilers defense (after the assumed first pair of Sekera and Fayne): The one shining light is Oscar Klefbom, who proved he is ready for a top-four assignment, by guiding the defensively suspect Justin Schultz to a respectable season.
For me, that’s the big issue. I think there’s every chance Todd McLellan will use Oscar Klefbom on the second pairing with Eric Gryba or someone he has his eye on who may shake loose in pre-season. McLellan’s job will be to find a replacement for Klefbom on the Schultz pairing—difficult, but possible.
I think we’re looking at something else again with Andrew Ference and also believe Nikita Nikitin’s time-on-ice in Edmonton opening night through the trade deadline will be devoted to showcasing him and getting the veteran settled in a new NHL city.